Organizing Strategy and Practice

Pam Franks's Picture

Pam Franks

Pamela Franks was born May 27, 1971, in Forrest City, Arkansas.  Pamela’s mother died when she was only 3 years old.  After her mother’s passing, Pamela and her brother were raised by their grandparents, which instilled the values of being honest and working hard in accomplishing your goals. 

After graduating from High School, Pamela and her infant daughter relocated to Dallas, Texas.  Pamela worked her first job as a fast food worker at McDonalds.  She had no family support in Dallas and the barriers of working and finding childcare for her daughter became too overwhelming and she decided to move back home to Forrest City.  She moved in with her grandparents and attended the local community college. 

In May of 1990, she moved to Springfield, Illinois.  She moved to Springfield because she felt there would be more opportunities for employment than in a small town like Forrest City, where you had to know someone to even get a job at a fast food restaurant.  She moved in with her former high school friend in Springfield and found employment at McDonalds as a cashier, but again struggled finding childcare for her daughter.  She had to make the hard decision to send her daughter back to Forrest City to live with her grandmother.  

Pamela worked a variety of low-wage jobs throughout the years.  In 1993, she had her second born child.  She worked as a bus monitor for the local school bus company. She worked as a spare bus monitor and would ride different bus routes daily.  She eventually found full-time employment as a preschool bus monitor. The bus monitors were paid by the run instead of by the hour.  She was paid only $20.00 a run, which consisted of 2 runs a day. 

In August, 1996, Pamela decided that she wanted to open her own home daycare.  She applied for her license but as she waited, she worked as a license-exempt childcare provider on nights and weekends.  In October, 1996, she finished the licensing process and received her daycare license from the state of Illinois.  Pamela decided to keep her position at the bus company until she could fill her daycare slots because she needed the income to take care of her family.

Pamela got her first clients within a month so she quit the bus company and worked in her home daycare as a licensed provider full-time.  She began her daycare in a 2-bedroom townhouse.  A few years later, she and her family moved into a 4-bedroom home.  In 1990, she brought her first home where she continues to work as a daycare provider today.

In 2001, Pamela decided to make childcare her career and go back to college to pursue an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education.  It is at college where she learned about childcare providers organizing their union with SEIU Local 880.  She can still remember an organizer knocking on the door of her childcare home to talk with her about establishing SEIU for family childcare providers. 

In addition to her life experience as a single working mother of three children and childcare provider, Pamela is also a founding member of CoRise, a cooperative of childcare providers in Illinois. She is the owner and operator of Playful Steps Home Child Care in Springfield, Illinois, with over 25 years of experience in the field of early childhood education.

Pamela is also a union leader with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Kansas (HCIIMK) where she serves as an Executive Board member and on the Childcare Bargaining Committee as well as on the national union’s Early Learning Council.

As a childcare leader in Illinois, Pam also serves as an early childhood education instructor, program observer for the National Association for Family Childcare, and professional development specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition.

Pam received her Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois-Springfield and her Master’s in Education from National Louis University – attaining all of these degrees while running her childcare home and raising three children as a single Mom.